Last night, as I was putting on Chase’s IV bag, I mentioned his upcoming visit to the hospital and reminded him that he was going to have a “nap with the doctor” – our little phrase for when he’s under general anesthesia, in this case for another spinal tap. Every time I’ve mentioned a “nap” in the last couple of weeks he’s whimpered and said he’s scared, but last night, as I put on his bag, he was able to articulate more. As I asked him why he was scared, he told me that it was because the “nap” “hurt his body” and as I questioned what that meant (assuming some soreness from the tap), he clearly and lucidly said “It’s the two men, Mom. They hurt my body when they go like this [mimics pinching his cheeks together and covering his mouth and nose]. They scare me! Please don’t let them do that, okay?”
As I heard my child describe a very vivid memory of what is most likely the three breaths of struggling consciousness against an anesthesia team from a previous procedure, my heart and stomach dropped as my ire rose.
How dare they let that happen? How on earth does he remember? Why?
I almost never find myself questioning the cancer as a whole – it is not in my nature to question the large and inevitable things, but these small moments sear into my conscious and unconscious thought and replay ad nauseum. In those moments, I am angry and even despairing. My desire to protect my children rages against the reality of not being able to shield them and being powerless to erase his mental image of men holding a mask over his face while nobody was there to save him.
Like a litany in my head, “I hate cancer, I hate cancer, I hate this!” I want to fight something, someone – to lash out and change what is.
As we sit and pray together, I remind him (as I desperately remind myself) of our verse: “Be strong and of good courage, for the Lord our God is with you.” (Joshua 1:9)
I know that I need to trust God and that the only way to remove the heaviness of this moment is to run to the Word for comfort, but how I hate the cancer and all that goes with it. “The law of the Lord is perfect; reviving the soul…” (Psalm 19:7)
In that moment, I hate it with every fiber, but by God’s grace, I will press on to a restful and peaceful soul because this wretched disease is not the end, but the start.
“…for the Lord our God is with you.”
Moment by moment.
[I feel like I’ve written words and verses like this a hundred times, but today I had to write this out for the benefit of my own heart. I needed to write out and be reminded of why I do what I do and for Whom. So if you’ve heard these words and phrases from me before, bear with me today…I needed to hear them in my own head and heart again.]
**Chase can often be given a kind of forgetting drug so that he’s “gone” before he ever physically seperates from us, but on occasion, that drug is deemed unwise (for a variety of reasons). His oncology team is amazing and as soon as I informed them of what he remembered, changes were put in place to ensure he is more comfortable in future. My writing is about my reaction to his experience – not a current issue with Chase’s care.**